As I sit here at my computer with my back to the gorgeous day outside my window, I hear the giggles of my girls outside building a bridge out of big cardboard blocks and pretending a troll is guarding it. The littlest runs in, “Mom!! Mom!! Come see what we built!!” I stop, push out my chair from my desk and go to the doorway to see.

“No! come all the way outside! Then…close your eyes…”

I realize that the most this child has seen of my face all day was at breakfast and I hear a voice inside say, “you. are. missing. it.”

I walk out onto the driveway, close my eyes and ignore the phone ringing in the background. This is their time. “SURPRISE! Open your eyes!!!” Ah, the most gorgeous primary colored troll bridge I’ve yet to see. I stand there, breathing in the pre-spring air, watching the breeze blow their hair back off their faces. This was one of those moments that makes up the story of this stage of our lives. I don’t want to forget this. I want to stamp it on my heart so I can remember it and revisit it forever. Siiigh, wouldn’t that be nice if it were that easy? To tell myself “I want to remember this” and bam! Its remembered!!

We went and heard a storyteller last week at church. I’d never sat and listened to a professional storyteller before and I will say, if you haven’t either, I HIGHLY recommend!! As he told stories from his perspective of the first through the 4th grades, I was naturally envisioning my very own classrooms from that time period. I saw the 6 year old faces of my own friends, I recalled being a proud line leader and opening my carton of chocolate or white milk at afternoon snack. I was kind of teary when I left the parking lot that night. I realized what an incredibly precious GIFT that storyteller gave to me…the ability to revisit my childhood through story using the images from my memories. A huge light bulb flashed over my head…this is photography’s gift too.

There are lot of new photographers out there right now. And a lot who are unintentionally undermining the value of what this gift is because they don’t see that value themselves. I wish I could convince you of how special a treasure this art is..but I can’t. Until you experience the loss of it (or a lack of quality in it), you won’t value it. (Those of you who have had unfortunate experiences with photographers are screaming AMEN!!) You hired (or will hire) someone to photograph landmark moments in your life (weddings, babies, generations of family) because that is what everyone does but…have you ever considered why? These are incredibly important memories. They are portals to our past. They are clues for future generations. They. tell. our. story.

I sit here staring at the troll bridge made of cardboard blocks and try to burn this image of these precious small, innocent beings into my memory bank. I inhale and exhale. I try to soak it all in. Until I noticed what I had missed… until I saw these babies growing into little people, I didn’t understand the value of this art either. I can tell you every shot of them that I do not have. I can tell you each milestone I’ve missed. (There are many). I see these little beings changing, growing…so fast I feel like I just blinked and I want my babies back. I can’t get them back. I want time to slow down so I can absorb this all. Time won’t slow down. This is all changing way too fast. I see myself as a mother of teens, college graduates…a grandmother. Will I remember this moment in time? Will I be able to re-experience this amazing, sunny, windy day outside with my toddlers when I am 60, 70, 80 years old? Will I long for this when my children move away? Will I wish I could go back to this stage of my life? even for just a day? (Oh how that perspective is a gift).

Only our stories can repaint this picture. Images capture the stories. They capture smiles of the ones we love–smiles that we take for granted until that moment has passed and those faces are gone. The truth is, it’s not a matter of “IF” you value photography but “WHEN.” Don’t miss the opportunity to preserve your stories sooner. You won’t regret a single moment captured.

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4 Comments to Not “if” but “when”

  1. They grow up so fast Liz…mine just had babies…

  2. Its true, Terese… you don’t believe it until you turn around and they’re all grown up.

  3. As I wipe the tear from my eye, I realize my baby is experiencing what I had experienced when she was a child, at 60 you dont totally forget but gentle reminders help you to remember and yes… will want to return for just a moment..its like smelling that first smell of spring…I would give anything to return you and Jeff to that stage in my life but then I think…..I wouldnt have the two precious sweet babies I have now…you have to give up alot but the return is phenomenal….I love you, mom

  4. I love you too, Mom. You’ll have to coach me through all this. 😉

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An avid equestrian and true lover of art, Elizabeth merges her love of the horse, beauty and human relationship into her images.

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